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AM General To Begin Making Paratransit Vehicles

Company that makes the Hummer H2 for General Motors hopes to begin making wheelchair-accessible transit vehicles at its plant in Mishawaka, Ind., in 2010.

MISHAWAKA, Ind. (AP) -- AM General, which produces the Hummer H2 for General Motors Corp., hopes to begin making wheelchair-accessible transit vehicles for a Michigan company at its plant in Mishawaka in 2010.

AM General is not expected to hire any new workers to build the paratransit vehicles, company spokesman Craig Mac Nab said Monday.

"It's probably best thought of as work for people we've already got. It's a little too soon to say what the long-term implications will be," Mac Nab said. "It's very good news."

The news follows a General Motors Corp. announcement last month that several outside parties are interested in buying its Hummer brand.

The new vehicle includes an automatic ramp that will provide quick and easy access for individuals who use wheelchairs, motorized scooters and other mobility devices.

The vehicles, which will be made for commercial and municipal paratransit markets in the United States and Canada, will be built for Troy, Mich.-based Vehicle Production Group LLC. The company hopes to begin production during the first quarter of 2010, said Mark Hogan VPG chief executive officer.

"It's a brand new vehicle and the typical product development time for a new vehicle is 24 to 36 months. We're going to do it in a little bit faster than 24 months," he said.

The company already has reservations for 3,500 units without any aggressive marketing, Hogan said.

"Suffice to say we think we think we'll produce more than the 3,500. We've got pretty strong confidence this vehicle will be in high demand," he said.

The announcement was made after VPG received $160 million in financing for the project.

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